Monday, March 12, 2012

Petty Off Track In Criticism Of Appeals Panel

SPEED's Kyle Petty
Kyle Petty is well-meaning, but wrong.

The SPEED TV analyst called out the National Stock Car Racing Commission in no uncertain terms Sunday, just two days before the board is set to rule on an appeal filed by Hendrick Motorsports on behalf of its No. 48 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malek. Speaking on the network’s NASCAR RaceDay, the former Sprint Cup Series driver called the appeals process “a crapshoot.
“There are 45 members on this board (and) some of them may have passed away since their names were put in,” scoffed Petty. “That's how old these people are. These people shouldn't be judging Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus.”

A check of the records proves that all 45 panel members are, in fact, still alive. Better still, they bring hundreds of years of combined experience to the process. The panel is extremely diverse, but includes no less than 23 current or former track owner/promoters. From Mrs. Barbara Cromartie -- longtime owner of the quarter-mile Riverhead Raceway in New York -- to Joie Chitwood III -- President of the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway -- those 23 panelists contribute an intense, day-to-day knowledge of the inner workings of race promotion, track operation and rules enforcement. That kind of experience simply cannot be bought, and certainly should not be belittled.

Petty is incorrect when he calls the National Stock Car Racing Commission unqualified to rule on complex technical matters. Citizens are routinely called upon to serve as jurors in both civil and criminal trials; whether or not they have attended law school. In the NSCRC hearing room – as in our nation’s courts – complex issues can (and will) be explained to the jurors in layman’s terms, allowing them to render a fair, informed and just verdict.

“I challenge anybody out there to find me more than eight or 10 out of this 45 who have been to the race track in the last 12 to 24 months,” said Petty Sunday. “These people don't go to the race track, (and) they don't understand the process. They don't understand… where this sport is.”

Challenge accepted.
Martinsville's Clay Campbell
Six of the 45 commission members manage facilities that host races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Clay Campbell is President of Martinsville Speedway, a track built by his legendary grandfather, the late H. Clay Earles. Chitwood is President of Daytona International Speedway, and like Campbell, was born and raised in the motorsports arena. They join Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch, Dover Motorsports President/CEO Denis McGlynn; Infineon Raceway President Steve Page and Hulman & Company President/CEO Jeff Belskus on the panel. At the very least, all six executives attend races at their own facilities each year. Hall of Fame team owner Bud Moore, former driver Buddy Baker and former crew chiefs Buddy Parrott, Waddell Wilson and Robert Yates are familiar faces in the modern day Sprint Cup garage, as is former Charlotte Motor Speedway President H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler. That’s an even dozen panel members whose involvement with the sport is current, invaluable, and worthy of being embraced. They are far from the only ones.

While calling the commission members, “great business people... past drivers, champions, past sports car racers, past engine builders,” Petty insists, “(it) doesn't make any difference. I think (Johnson and Knaus) should be judged by their peers. In the environment we race in today, if you commit a crime or do something, you should be judged by people who understand the sport and what is going on.”

It is unknown where Petty would find these individuals, in a garage area layered with conflicts of interest. Can Steve Addington be expected to rule fairly on a dispute involving Chad Knaus, with whom he may soon be competing for the Sprint Cup Series championship? Is Jack Roush capable of putting aside his oft-stated disdain for all things Toyota in order to render an unbiased verdict in favor of a Joe Gibbs or Michael Waltrip Racing driver?

Obviously not, leaving NASCAR with little choice but to look outside the Sprint Cup garage for fair, unbiased, unaffiliated panelists.

NASCAR Hall Of Famer Bud Moore
Surprisingly, Petty suggests that the NSCRC appeals panel be staffed by senior NASCAR officials instead.  “I think (NASCAR President Mike) Helton is a better judge of it,” said Petty. “I think (Sprint Cup Series Director) Darby is a better judge of it. I think Robin (Pemberton) is a better judge of it, because they're right in there.” Petty’s ill-conceived system would make NASCAR both prosecutor and jury in cases of alleged rule violation; a recipe for disaster in the eyes of a fan base already prone to conspiracy theories and “black helicopter” allegations.

Interestingly, Petty then questions the judgment of the same NASCAR officials he proposes adding to the National Stock Car Racing Commission. “I don't think the fine or what they've done to Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus is anywhere near legit,” he said. “It's total B.S. They never should have fined them, because the car never made it onto the race track.”

Petty can be forgiven for seeing things from a competitor’s point of view. After all, he used to be one. However, the “never made it to the race track” defense has been tried – and rejected – numerous times in the past. Pre-race inspection is not a dress rehearsal; an opportunity for creative crew chiefs to run their new ideas past inspectors in search of NASCAR approval. That process takes place during the week at NASCAR’s Concord, NC, Research and Development Center, not at the race track on Friday afternoon.

NASCAR competitors know full-well that when they present a car for pre-qualifying inspection, it has to be 100-percent right, every single time.

Kyle Petty is a passionate, valuable member of the NASCAR family, and should be applauded for attempting to improve the appeals process. His criticism of commission members is unwarranted, however, and his solutions are ill-conceived.  

Editor’s Note: Here is a complete listing of the 45-member National Stock Car Racing Commission.

Ed Bennett – Appellate Administrator
Mark Arute -- President of Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway
Bill Lester – Former road racing champion and Camping World Truck Series driver.
Janet Guthrie – Former NASCAR Cup Series and Indianapolis 500 driver.
John Bishop -- Founder, International Motor Sport Assoctaion (IMSA)
Buddy Baker – 19-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, voted one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Barbara Cromarty – Owner, Riverhead (NY) Raceway
Bud Moore – Former NASCAR team owner, member of NASCAR’s Hall Of Fame.
Clay Campbell – President, Martinsville Speedway
Joie Chitwood – President, Daytona International Speedway
Shawna Robinson – Former NASCAR Cup Series driver.
Doug Fritz – Former President, Richmond International Raceway
Buddy Parrott – Won 49 races as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief.
Lyn St. James – Former road racer and Indianapolis 500 driver.
Stan Lasky – Promoter, Motordrome (PA) Speedway
Jack Housby -- President, Housby Trucking
H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, Jr. – Former President, Charlotte Motor Speedway
Robert Pressley – Promoter, Kingsport TN Speedway. Former NASCAR Cup Series driver.
Waddell Wilson – Three-time Daytona 500 winning crew chief and engine builder.
Leo Mehl -- Former Director, Goodyear racing; former Executive Director, Indy Racing League
Grant Lynch – President, Talladega Superspeedway
David Hall -- Former co-founder/president Country Music Television (CMT)
Jay Signore – Former owner, International Race of Champions (IROC)
Dale Pinilis – Promoter, Bowman-Gray (NC) Stadium
Kevin Whitaker – Promoter, Greenville Pickens (SC) Speedway
Russell Hackett – Owner, Carraway (NC) Speedway
John Capels – Chairman, United State Auto Club (USAC)
Denis McGlynn – President/CEO, Dover Motorsports
Jim Williams – Former President, Toyota Raceway at Irwindale (CA)
Jo DeWitt Wilson -- Former President, North Carolina Speedway
Cathy Rice – General Manager, South Boston (VA) Speedway
Bill Mullis – Owner, Langley (VA) Speedway
Ken Clapp – Former owner/promoter Infineon (CA) Raceway
Robert Yates – Winning NASCAR Cup Series engine builder, crew chief and team owner.
John White – Owner, Spencer (NY) Speedway
Hurley Haywood – Legendary road racer, Rolex 24 at Daytona and 24 Hours of Lemans winner.
Steve Page – President, Infineon (CA) Raceway
Jeff Belskus – President/CEO, Hulman & Company. (Owners of Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
Steve Lewis – Multi-time USAC National Midget Series championship owner
Lee Baumgarten -- Director of Operations, Phoenix International Raceway
Richard Gore – Owner, Old Dominion (Va.) Speedway
John Horton – President and Founder of

Three additional members of the panel – Christiane Ayotte, Dr. Robert L. DuPont and Laurel Farrell -- have expertise in doping, substance abuse and its associated testing, and may be called upon by the sanctioning body to hear testimony in cases involving those topics.


  1. love it !! Great article. sometimes Mr. Petty goes a little off the deep end.

    Lori (colorado)

  2. Anonymous10:12 PM

    This is my first time commenting on your blog. I am also a regular daily listener of yours - have been for years and am a life-long fan of the sport. Sometimes I agree with you, other times I don't.

    I heard Petty's remarks over the weekend and was taken aback by them. I am so glad you wrote this - because something needed to be said - and I feel you said it perfectly. He needed to be called on it. Thanks.

  3. WHY are people so hung up on the fact that the car NEVER made it to the track??? This is NOT the first time that a team was hit with a fine for a car that hadn't seen track time! Hell, it isn't even the first time Chad has been hit with a fine for a pre-track infraction!!!

    1. Anonymous2:44 PM

      Its not that folks are hung up on it never making it to the track -- they are hung up on the fact it never made it to Tech Inspection!
      Name another single instance of a team being fined for an infraction PRIOR to the car being inspected.
      This was a "visual" determination prior to any of the various measuring devices being applied to the car. If it was that blatant an infraction why not apply the templates and then issue the findings? Is it because the posts did not violate any known technical spec?

    2. Anonymous9:31 AM

      The JGR Oil pans never hit the track last year and they were fined. The differences being that body changes are a no-no versus an internal part and NASCAR took Chad's past infractions in mind.

  4. captneilf10:21 PM

    Hi Dave,
    A very good informative educational article. I did not know about the Commission.

    Does an Appeal trigger this Commission to be assembled?

    Okay a team get penalized by NASCAR for an illegal whatever. If appealed this Commission gets involved. NASCAR is the primary judge/jury. Why would not the Commission be empowered to review the infractions and set the penalties. NASCAR would have clean hands.

    1. The commission is convened whenever a team exercises its right to appeal a NASCAR penalty. After the commission rules, the losing side has the right to one final appeal, heard by the Commissioner of the National Stock Car Racing Commission.

  5. Those of us who have listened to Petty's ramblings were not surprised at his superior knowledge of the Commission. Most of us are aware he is not clicking on all eight cylinders and mute the TV when he is on.

    1. Your comment is very close to violating our "no name calling" rule. In the future, please try to make your point without the name-calling.

  6. Bayrat10:40 PM

    IF the template woulda fit, they must acquit!

  7. Anonymous11:13 PM

    Dave. It's tv. He's paid to do this. Do you really think it would be good for ratings if they all sat there and agreed? Same thing with Pistol Pete and Bagman.

    1. Controversy may be good for ratings, but "controversy at all costs" is a very slippery slope. Kyle has every right to state his opinion, but he also has a responsibility to base those opinions on fact. There are no dead people on the panel, and the VAST majority of panel members have daily, intense involvement in the sport. Kyle is a smart guy, he can do better than this.

  8. Anonymous11:18 PM

    I think you just proved Kyles point

  9. Good column Dave. Thank you

  10. Anonymous11:30 PM

    the car never made the inspection line, was never measured, this is a total bs penalty

  11. Anonymous12:02 AM

    Well thought out and presented Moody. Too many people may give Kyle the benefit of the doubt.

  12. Judy B1:03 AM

    I wonder what Kyle's take would have been if this involved a driver/crew chief he wasn't incredibly fond of. Also loved Kyle's comment that the car wasn't penalized 4 other times. Even if true, try getting a ticket dismissed by saying you sped by a cop 4 times before being caught the 5th. Thank you for a thoughtful, well-written article.

  13. Anonymous11:17 AM

    This is about intent as much as anything correct?
    If so to me the fact it never made it on track is irrelevant.
    The intent was to race the car as it was presented for inspection.
    And looking over the list of the commision, it seems anyone on that list can judge the intent for the C post uh modification.

    Robert Y

  14. Anonymous2:25 PM

    Dave I could be wrong but Kyle Petty was on either TMD or trading paint today and I could of swore I heard him say he didn't have a problem with the fines . It was the points that he felt like shouldn't be accessed due to the fact that it was the first race of the year and they had no points yet ! I don't think I'm hearing things but maybe I am .

  15. mrclause3:48 PM

    Once again there's no reference to the "eyeball" inspection, no reference to Darby stating "it couldn't be fixed at the track", no reference to "it was measured with gauges and STUFF". Was it actually measured BEFORE they were removed from the car using heat and possibly changing shape when it was no longer attached? That all needs to be part of the questions asked and answered at any reasonable appeals hearing. Want to bet HMS isn't given the opportunity to directly question the supposed inspectors?

    Who else is going to directly speak out on issues other than Kyle? We've got one person that isn't fearful of speaking his mind or the consequences of doing so. You can bet that NASCAR won't even attempt to stifle Kyle or pull his hard card as they have done to others. There's a simple reason for that, Kyle would tell everyone that they did it. He said what he believed and that is his job. Before you knock him too much think about NASCAR's past and that by definition it is now and always has been a dictatorship and has cost themselves much more credibility than Kyle has lost in his remarks. I've held a NASCAR competition license and have experienced them at their worst and their best. Kyle is not that far off in his remarks.

  16. schreib6:58 PM

    excellent article as always, Dave! I learned something new while reading your article, and couldnt agree more. NASCAR knows what theyre doing,and they continue to impress me with each passing year and their advancements and equality within the sport.Mr. Petty is entitled to his interpretation of the process,as are all of NASCAR fans,drivers,etc.your article has enlightened me,and now I have my interpratation.NASCAR and the judging panel are correct with the penalties and fines;they are appointed because they know what theyre doing!

  17. Anonymous8:09 PM

    Dave, you make a good argument, but of the people on the panel you listed, some of these people that aren't in the racing trenches day in and day out. Who on your list was present at the hearing, all 45? It would be interesting for you to list who was there for the hearing and see who is actively involved in day to day racing business. I used to listen to you on Sirius, but you berate people when they call in and don't see things the way you do. Before you start dihing out advise, take some of your own from time to time.

  18. Coleman9:42 PM

    Sorry Godfather, but gotta go with KP on this one. While I will agree with you that there are a good many who do have involvement with the SPRINT CUP series such as track presidents and former team owners of the recent past, when was the last time you saw Shawna Robinson, Lyn St. James, CMT guy, or guy in the Sprint Cup series garage? Didnt think so.. There are many short track owners/promoters on this board, but I think the point KP was making is that they have no experience or knowledge in the area of the Sprint Cup series... Local Short tracks yes, but not the highest level of motorsports in this country. I am an avid listener to Sirius Speedway and hear you tell all the armchair quarterbacks who call in trying to solve all the Nascar issues such as EFI, Restrictor plates leave it to the professionals. I feel this is the same thing, if they dont have intimate knowledge of the most current things that go on week in and week out in the garage then they dont have any business being on this panel. By those standards, I qualify to be on the Board! Or Danica, she has as many starts as Shawna and Lynn and Indy starts!!!!!!

  19. Anonymous7:46 AM

    I think you hit the nail on the head Moody, what is Kyle thinking by saying be judged by you're pears? Do we let murder suspects be judged, and there fate decided by people on death row? And why would you let Mr. Darby be the one who decides the appeal, he is the one who hands out the penalties. It's sounds to me like the one who says people have no clue is the one in fact that has no clue! The people that don't really no how the process works should trust in the people that do. It is a proven system, with to many people involved to manipulate any outcome pro competitor or pro NASCAR.

  20. Anonymous10:36 PM

    The easy fix to this is as follows:
    1. The party in question picks a member.
    2. Nascar picks a member.
    3. Nascar and the party in question agree on a third member.

    This three member panel hears the facts and issues a ruling.
    Only a majority is required to reach a ruling.